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Kenna Burima’s new songs navigate melancholy, motherhood and rebirth

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From 2019 into 2020, singer-songwriter Kenna Burima had a set ritual.


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She would sit in entrance of her grand piano and wait. It was at all times at night time and at all times after her then two-year-old daughter of hers, Ellianna, had been put to mattress. Writing music prior to now had often been an arduous, painstaking course of for the musician. However for these compositions, she would simply look forward to the songs to come back to her. Ultimately, as she explains within the introduction of her latest venture of hers, a door would open.

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Burima was affected by each sleep deprivation and melancholy on the time. She had crammed her journals with detailed notes about what she was going by way of. It was a cathartic expertise for the Calgary musician that will finally result in the 9 tracks on her upcoming album, Whereas She She Sleeps.

Kenna Burima.  Photo by Sean Dennie.
Kenna Burima. Photograph by Sean Dennie. jpg

“I wrote myself out of a gap,” says Burima, in an interview from her Calgary residence. “I began writing within the morning. I began writing at night time. Then I might sit down on the piano and, by way of a very, actually sluggish course of, begin to marry the phrases I might listing in my journal to the music that will come to me sitting on the piano. It is simply me and simply the piano. No bandmates. Not multitrack. No layering of something. It is simply two tracks. So there was no hiding. Going by way of that darkish time, once I got here out from the opposite finish of it I simply could not cover anymore. I’ve at all times been shitty with small speak, however now I am actually unhealthy at small speak and simply actually keen to speak about my internal panorama or simply discuss emotions and to hear and query the place different persons are at.”


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There may be definitely one thing deeply private and elemental to the tracks on Whereas She Sleeps: from the haunting and minimalist album-opening instrumental The Golden Thread to the superbly sung, soul-searching torch track Pondering and the expressive Tea with Satie, a delicate ode to the early Twentieth-century French avant-garde composer Erik Satie.

Listeners should wait till the spring to listen to the album. However Burima can be providing a sneak peak of the fabric on Saturday, Jan. 28 when she transforms the Engineered Air Theater at Arts Commons right into a Nineteenth-century New York Metropolis piano bar to play the track cycle as a part of the Excessive Efficiency Rodeo. On the identical day, Burima can be releasing Whereas she She Sleeps as a songbook, which is able to supply sheet music for all of the songs alongside detailed notes of how they got here to be.


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The concept is for musicians of assorted ability ranges to play the songs themselves. Burima is not the primary artist to launch music alongside these traces. In 2012, Beck launched Track Reader as a ebook of sheet music of songs he had solely performed reside. It was finally launched as an album made up of the identical songs interpreted by varied artists equivalent to Norah Jones, actor-comedian Jack Black and R&B cult favourite Swamp Dogg.

Burima hopes to do one thing related with Whereas She Sleeps and has put out a name to her fellow Calgary musicians, inviting them to supply interpretations that she’s going to launch on social media. Given the deeply private nature of the lyrics, these songs could appear unlikely candidates for a number of interpretations. However Burima mentioned she discovered the other to be true. Being uncooked and weak and “utterly truthful” to her personal experiences de ella in her writing de ella appears to have made the track extra common.


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“Folks, audiences, different musicians, different artists choose up on it and perceive it differently than my different albums and songs, the place I’m attempting to inform different folks’s tales. I generally tried to inform my very own tales however by way of the lens of ‘I hope folks will like me. I hope they will like this track,’” she says. “There has at all times been a masks: It was Kenna Burima the songwriter; Kenna Burima the performer.”

A classically educated musician who studied at each Mount Royal College and the College of Calgary, Burima is a composer and trainer who has launched two solo albums and performed with quite a lot of acts over time, together with indie-folksters Woodpigeon and punky storage rockers LoveWaves. .

It is hardly shocking that her life modified drastically after the start of her daughter 5 years in the past.


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Burima says she had at all times embraced the lifetime of a musician utterly – “I liked performing, liked touring, liked partying – the entire expertise of being a performing artist” – but in addition acknowledges that she doubtless suffered from melancholy for many of her life.

“I chased it away or exaggerated it with medication and alcohol,” she says. “I feel it is a fairly frequent coping mechanism. The stage is an excellent place to be however it’s also a spot the place extreme habits and extreme habits are born and nurtured. The music business, full-stop, is a spot the place behaviors and coping mechanisms involving medication and alcohol could be hidden in plain sight. As soon as I turned pregnant and as soon as I had my daughter, I wasn’t on stage. I wasn’t within the place I so desperately liked as a result of I used to be caring for a small human that wanted me 24/7. Additionally, I could not use the identical coping mechanisms. So, as I’ve heard from many parenting associates, you will have a child and every part cracks open when it comes to not having the ability to depend on the identical methods to manage.”


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Burima would not draw back from outlining this transformation within the songs, which she started writing as she was affected by a melancholy that was doubtless exacerbated by sleep deprivation and, later, the pandemic. Whereas the compositions are nonetheless well-crafted, Burima mentioned her method de ella modified. Quite than fussing with or questioning her preliminary instincts, she allowed them to movement free.

“The music and melodies began coming to me – coming to my thoughts and popping out of my fingers,” she says. “It was a very completely different course of. It was a lot slower, a lot gentler and it took numerous religion as a result of it will simply be items. As a substitute of sitting down and writing the track from starting to finish, which is how I might attempt to write earlier than, it will simply be a phrase or a little bit of a melody and even simply a few notes. Then I might craft it.”


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Whereas the songs have a melancholy really feel and should mirror a darkish interval in her life, the story appears to have a cheerful ending.

“I am comfortable to speak about any and all features of my psychological well being and my experiences scripting this album: that journey of working by way of postpartum melancholy and navigating the pandemic concurrently after which utilizing my commerce and observe as an avenue to unpack all of it and perceive myself extra and in the end change into the dad or mum, the mom, that I knew I used to be able to,” she says.

“It was all taking place concurrently. Probably I selected it. I used to be both going to white-knuckle it, which I used to be for a few years, or select to assume perhaps there may be this different method. So I do not drink. I am boring in that regard. A few of my associates say ‘Kenna, you do not do any of the belongings you used to do.’ I do not. However I nonetheless love to bounce with abandon, I really like partying, I really like being out late, I really like howling on the moon. I really like doing all of the issues I did earlier than however I do them in another way and, usually, I will get up on the ungodly hour that my daughter is adamant to get up at.”

Whereas She Sleeps can be carried out Jan. 28 at 7:30 pm on the Engineered Air Theater as a part of the Excessive Efficiency Rodeo. The Whereas She Sleeps Songbook can be launched on Jan. 28. The album will come out within the spring.



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